I’m going to be upfront here and say that this has been difficult for me. Accepting my body as it is after having babies where I feel so connected and grateful to have birthed a little person does not come naturally to me. I don’t fell this great encompassing awe when I look at my stretch marks and extra skin.
Like mentally, yeah, I’m pretty impressed that a whole baby that is now standing or sitting before me was once growing inside me. And I am totally thankful that my body was able to sustain 3 pregnancies and grow 3 adorable babies.
BUT, that doesn’t make me appreciate my stretchmarks. My awe about bringing people into the world does not make me blind to or thankful for my looser skin.
Here’s the thing. Growing up and into my adulthood I was very in control of my body. As a dancer I knew how to understand it, how to move it, how to take care of it. Every aspect was familiar and felt like home.
When I got pregnant each time, it was easier to accept my changing body. After all, there was a baby inside. The growing belly and hips were to accommodate a tiny human that was in there using that space.
Once the baby came out though, all that extra space was no longer necessary. Now, yes, in my brain I know that it takes time for your uterus to shrink back and all of that, but throughout my pregnancy a part of me was looking forward to having that control over my body that I once had back. So after the 9 months, I was less than patient.
My self identity included being fit and having a dancer’s physique and I no longer had that.
On top of that I was super self-conscious of these changes. I mean it wasn’t all bad. I did and do appreciate the bigger boobs. When you’ve been an A cup all your life, walking around with C’s for a year while breastfeeding totally changes how the upper half of your shirts look.
The problem is that the lower half also looks different. Especially after the first kid, I didn’t feel attractive or sexy. I didn’t want my husband to see my body like that. I mean I didn’t want to see it like that myself, why would he?
And while I know our relationship isn’t solely based on physical attraction, it still is a part of it. I felt like my stretchmarks and loose skin were my dirty little secret. Ironically now after my 3rd baby I have way more loose skin and stretchmarks than I ever did after my first.
It’s like that meme that you wish you now had the body you had when you used to think you were fat. Or something like that.
All of this to say I am not one of those super evolved people who just love their post pregnancy body automatically. I do not naturally embrace the tiger stripes and all that. And almost 7 months after this last baby, its still something I’m working on.
But I am working on it and I have had some success. So here are my tips to get to a better place with how you see your body after baby.
Tips for Growing to Love Your Post Pregnancy Body
Practice Daily Affirmations - Your mind is super powerful. It can change your thoughts and perceptions and how you feel physically. So daily affirmations are a great way to change your views of yourself.
My practice is to tell myself daily that I am beautiful. I pick out something I love about myself and concentrate on that. I have a nice butt and I love my hair (especially how easy it is to do, #straighthairlife). This about what you love and not about what you don’t love.
The more you tell yourself that you are beautiful and worthy of loving and being loved, the more you will actually believe it.
Go Shopping - This one was hard for my because I was like “but I don’t want to spend money on clothes that hopefully I won’t need very long. I already have a closet full of clothes I just need to fit into them.”
But this causes us to feel bad about ourselves in a bunch of ways. First it makes us feel like a failure when we don’t fit into our clothes yet when in reality we actually don’t have full control of our body changing back to its new normal.
Plus, we feel bad because the clothes don’t fit and it’s hard to feel good when you feel like you look bad.
So go shopping. Get a couple staple pieces that you can mix and match, that fit, and that make you feel good. Rationalize the shopping spree however you want, but do it! I rationalized that I needed tops that I could breastfeed in so if you breastfeed, you can totally steal that.
Talk to Your Spouse - This can be hard, but the results can be amazing. First what not to do: Don’t just ask your spouse if he still thinks you’re beautiful. He will feel trapped like it’s a trick question cause it kinda is. I mean if he says yes then clearly he’s lying cause has he seen the cellulite and if he says no, well, no explanation required.
Instead tell him how you are feeling about your body. Tell him that you aren’t feeling attractive or sexy. That you can’t see past the stretchmarks and skin and you’re afraid he can’t either.
Let him give you an honest answer. Odds are you will feel a million times sexier after that conversation. You still probably won’t love your stretch marks, but you will know that your spouse finds you sexy and attractive and worthy of his love regardless of them.
Treat Your Body Right - The way you treat things shows yourself and the world how you feel about it. The bag you got from Michael Kors gets put back in its dust cover religiously when not in use but the drawstring bag from the gym gets tossed on the floor.
Well the same thing goes for your body. If you want to start loving your body, you have to start treating it lovingly. That means feeding it healthy things, exercising it, getting your hair done, or a massage.
Treat your body like it’s something you love and it may in fact turn into something you love. Crazy right!
Hide the Negativity - There are always those people who seem to look amazing after having a baby. If I’m honest with myself, I’m probably that person to a lot of people. I mean I don’t feel like myself yet, but I know that a lot of other people have been impressed with my progress towards my pre-baby body. (we are always are harshest critics, right)
If someone in the media or social media is making you feel bad about your body because they make it look so good, hide them. Don’t allow them on your feed. Even if it’s your best friend.
Your feed is your space and you don’t need it making you feel bad. If someone questions you about it just let them know that you love them but you just need to not see their perfect post baby abs for a while until you can feel happy for them about it. Your mental health is worth it.
I really hope you find these tips helpful especially if you too can’t seem to but into this whole love your tiger stripes thing. If you have or have had similar postpartum thoughts or feelings, let me know in the comments!